Tuesday , Feb , 12 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Phoenix Suns With Shaquille O’Neal Unbeatable in West

No matter what becomes of the Shaquille O’Neal deal, and though O’Neal has been awful this season, I’m not quite ready to discount his trade to the Suns for its playoff impact.One of the best games of the second half could be right after the All-Star break, on Feb. 20 in Phoenix. It’s the last regular-season meeting between the Suns and Lakers. O’Neal should be playing by then, and Kobe Bryant will lead the Lakers into town.

O’Neal, who last year labeled Lakers coach Phil Jackson ‘Benedict Arnold,’ had to notice Jackson saying last week how Shaq would be used: ‘Taking the ball out of bounds and waiting for the other team to get back.’ Jackson added this: ‘There’s diminishing returns for a guy who’s 7-foot-1, 300-whatever.  When you have multiple problems in your legs — feet, knees, hips — that’s the stability that holds up the frame. It’s real difficult. He’ll get in better shape as the year goes on, but…’ This is now the NBA’s best rivalry. The teams have played tough series in recent playoffs. Click here for more from the Chicago Tribune.